We depart from our normal fun-loving hilarity to request urgent help in a developing situation. We ask our readers, both home and abroad, to please contact us if they have any information regarding the whereabouts of Dr. Harold Farthing.
|Dr. Farthing, preparing to deliver his famed address,
The Nature of Tea Cups in Two Dimensional Space.
Oil on canvas, 1975, Manchester Museum of Art.
Most of you know Dr. Farthing as one of the preeminent parkeologists in the field today. We first met him at a fundraiser some years back—one of those banal functions that parkeologists are forever having to attend. He seemed a right dapper chap in his classic tuxedo, his beard neatly trimmed with just a hint of grey. He and Teevtee spent nearly thirty minutes together out by the bar, downing glasses of champagne and discussing the literary merits of Mission to Mars. I myself moderated the debate between Farthing and the Progress City team over the stagecraft of Doug Live. And the good doctor proved exceedingly gracious when one of the Imaginerding guys spilled coffee on his custom tailored Mickey Mania Parade overcoat.
That was nearly eight years ago, and though we kept tabs on one another, we had not corresponded since an impromptu encounter at a Kim Possible Station in World Showcase sometime last March. It is not unusual for us to go several months without hearing from Dr. Farthing. He is often out on one of his many expeditions, excavating the original Mineral King site or exploring the untamed wilderness of Disney’s America. But imagine our surprise when we learned by way of his wife that Dr. Farthing has been missing now for nearly six months.
At first we thought nothing of it. Farthing once spent an entire semester locked away in a concealed canister, observing the progress of Tokyo Disney Sea’s Raging Spirits ride (he was later heard to mutter “Never again”). But when a mysterious package showed up on our doorstep late last week, we realized the gravity of the situation.
We present this file unedited to you, our readers, in the hopes that someone may be able to shed some light on this strange case.
Carousel Family Interviews
Conducted by Dr. H. Farthing on site
The following are my notes from a series of four interviews conducted at the home of John and Sarah Carousel, Tomorrowland, FL. Also present at this time were their children Patricia (16) and James (11), as well as John’s parents. Another relative, Sarah’s uncle, was visiting during the same time, but declined to be interviewed, requesting privacy over a recent downsizing.
My intentions during these interviews were to establish some background information on the standard of living enjoyed by American families of the twentieth century. The Carousel House, as it is known in the community, has a reputation as an architectural oddity. The house is by turns modern and antique, roomy and cramped, well lit and forebodingly dark. Upon my initial tour, I was struck by its uniform inhospitality. Paper-thin walls abound; it is not uncommon to be sitting in the kitchen and hear conversations in the next room as plain as day. Entire areas seemed genuinely unfit for use. The rumpus room, which was being remodeled at the time, was so claustrophobic and dark I could not imagine a single recreational activity that could be comfortably performed in such a confined space. It felt more like a mausoleum, and there was barely room for a sofa, let alone a pool table or other diversionary toy.
At first introductions, the family seemed pleasant enough. They expressed what appeared to be genuine enthusiasm for my work and were eager to show off their living space. The family engages in typical good-natured interplay, and is not above playing games together and celebrating traditional holidays. At first blush, this projects a familiarity with practices common to all American families. But as the interviews wore on, I confess I began to find it unsettling.
|The Carousels, from left to right: Grandfather, Patricia, Grandmother, James, John, Rover, Sarah. Not pictured: Orville. This portrait–the only one agreed to by all members–suggests some uncomfortable relationships within the family unit. Note the aggressive use of distance to isolate the individuals from one another, a sign of deep-rooted psychological withdrawal.
In fact, it seemed more like a performance put on for my benefit, rather than the normal interactions of a typical family unit. On several occasions, the family would sing a little tune of their own device, which—far from evoking a charming sense of Midwestern values—had the effect of making everyone uncomfortable. I had heard tales of ritualized singing before, but always in the context of a cult or the ravings of a lunatic. When Sarah got distraught over a ruined kitchen appliance, I was fairly alarmed when John burst into song to cheer her up. My own thought was that if I had broken one of my wife’s prized possessions, I would be better served to buy her a replacement.
But along those lines, it may be that money is a sensitive subject. My inquiries into the family’s financial situation were politely brushed aside. John implied that he has a career in the city, to which he commutes every day, but was intentionally vague as to the nature of that job. There seems to be a frugality to their lives, and much of the children’s clothing appeared to be homemade. On at least one occasion, John expressed what could only be interpreted as blatant jealousy over a neighbor’s new car.
It may be that the Carousels have fallen on hard times. There is the aforementioned out-of-work uncle, and the daughter was observed using hand-me-down exercise equipment from the grandmother. The kids’ big Christmas present this year was an off-brand video game system, and though they gave the appearance of a lavish turkey dinner for the holidays, I later learned there was no other food in the house, other than a carton of milk and cheap frozen pizzas.
In spite of this, the father, John, relishes his role as head of the household, proudly showing off his wanton materialism at every chance. Frankly, the man frightens me. The house he so loves is a veritable deathtrap. If an inspector ever had cause to examine the place, he would find enough code violations to stretch from New York to California. There are no smoke alarms to speak of, and we were fortunate that a minor oven fire was caught in time. The wiring in the kitchen was out of control, with cables strung everywhere, over lighting fixtures and around appliances, almost dipping into the sink—and all plugged into a single overloaded electrical outlet.
|A housing inspector’s nightmare. I quickly snapped this picture when no one was looking.
But the worst was the bathroom, and it was here that I first began to suspect foul play. I requested to use the facilities, but upon entering I found the tub—one of those old basins with clawed feet, like you see in horror movies— completely full. Right next to it was an electric fan, plugged in and buzzing like an angry insect. On the ground between the two was a puddle of melting ice.
This had all the makings of a staged accident, and for a brief instant, I wondered if the family was trying to kill me. One slip on the ice would have sent me headfirst into the tub. All it would take is one flailing hand to knock in the fan, and I would have been electrocuted in an instant. By the time the cops showed up, any icy evidence would have melted away. I tried to push such thoughts from my mind, but the more I thought about, the more scared I became.
I began to question just what kind of man John Carousel was. He laughed a lot—and at the strangest things. I found his jokes in poor taste, especially a remark about the failures of Charles Lindbergh, a man who lost a child to a violent kidnapping and murder. More than once he referred to himself and the human race as a bunch of “rats,” and when the aptly timed cuckoo clock interrupted his diatribe about dating, it gave perfect voice to the thoughts spinning through my head. The man was clearly nuts.
He could be fearsomely misogynistic in his conversations with his wife, who is required to perform all household chores without a complaint. He ascribed to the belief that a smiling, submissive wife was the only thing that kept marriage tolerable. After a bizarre accident in which Sarah miraculously survived a tumble from a rickety wooden ladder, I began to wonder if he might be abusive as well.
Certainly there is a violent streak that runs in the family. The grandfather has all the makings of a pyromaniac. Not only was I forced to endure his unending pipe smoking, but the man spent an entire evening snuggling a giant firecracker as if it were a sleeping baby.
|Grandpa and his beloved rocket. On a side note, pictures taken within the confines of Carousel House are often murky and poorly rendered, in spite of the photographer’s best efforts. This may point to some other force at work.
Grandpa’s wife is no better. The old woman has a vicious mean streak and an addiction to blood sports, which I saw her foaming over when she thought no one was watching. When I later confronted her, she feigned deafness, but the woman is a remarkable marksman, with hand-eye coordination to best even her video-game-loving grandson.
Yet still, it was John that unnerved me the most. The more time I spent with him, the more I began sense a depraved mind at work. His personal role models are reproachful. I was shocked and horrified when he wistfully claimed a kinship and appreciation for Benedict Arnold, a man most famous for betraying his country.
There was an undertone of sexual perversity that kept creeping into his dialogue. He seemed blithely unconcerned when his son James discovered John’s secret stash of lewd stereoscope pictures. He laughed it off, and let the lad have a look, intervening only when he got worried that Sarah might find it.
Of even greater alarm was when we accidently walked in on his daughter Patricia, in a state of undress. Patricia is a beauty in the very flower of womanhood, and it rattled me the way her father casually took me into her bedroom, where she sat at her vanity with her hair down, dressed only in her underwear. To her credit, the young lady seemed suitably embarrassed, but once again her father brushed it off, telling her it was okay because I was “a friend.” It made me wonder how many more strangers had been “friends” in this household.
|This distasteful image captures John in the act of ogling his daughter’s backside. Although not obvious in this photo, her hips were vibrating at the time due to the exercise machine.
The mother and the daughter seem to have it the worst, but I fear John may already be corrupting James, the youngest. On at least one occasion, Sarah implored the two males to stop teasing Patricia—“teasing” in this case being a series of caustic remarks about the general ugliness of the girl. The boy James (or Jim, as he is sometimes called) runs around in a dreadful fright, howling at the moon like a lunatic, telling jokes to the dog, and displaying an unhealthy fascination with military anthems and carving knives. Jim may also be the victim of psychological abuse. During a power outage, it was Jim who was sent down into the blackened basement to fumble around with the electrical fuses, while John remained parked in the kitchen, cooling himself with a paper fan from Niagara Falls.
|A candid shot of James in his bedroom carving what he claimed was a doppelganger for his sister’s face. Future serial killer at work, or just a boy and his knives?
Still, one cannot discount the possibility of paranormal activity in the house. There is a malevolent feel to the whole proceedings, as if some unholy entity is wreaking havoc on the minds of this middle-class American family. The members of the household made no mention of this directly, but I clearly witnessed poltergeist-like behavior on several occasions.
The first instance was merely spooky—a slow, rhythmic running of water in the kitchen sink. But it became progressively more violent, and in one terrifying encounter, the entire kitchen came alive: the refrigerator door banging open, the dishwasher vomiting out its trays, the vacuum cleaner zooming around untouched while the lights flickered uncontrollably. John appeared to take it all in stride, and the rest of the family spends a lot of their time avoiding the kitchen (and John) completely. Everyone seems on the verge of jumping out of their skin. It does not help that they have rigged the house with a voice activation unit that speaks in a disembodied voice every time you turn on the lights.
I am not given to superstitions, but I plainly tell you I believe the house to be haunted. Whether it got that way through actions of the Carousel family, or whether the family was later corrupted by the dark presence in the house, I do not know. I only know that there is a spirit lurking in the shadows of Carousel House. And I have become obsessed with understanding this phenomenon and bringing it to rest.
During my time with the Carousels, I saw fit to photograph the family and the house, as a way to chronicle my work. These same photographs are included with this file. At the time, I did not notice anything strange in my compositions, but upon further review back at the office, I did come across one image that caused my heart to leap into my throat. By sheer accident, I believe I have caught the specter on camera.
The above picture shows Sarah slaving over the family wash, using one of the many primitive devices that populate the house. But laboring next to her is a young child no more than six, a girl, in old-fashioned dress. She does not speak (or at least, did not speak when I was around), and I did not see her in any other pictures.
It is clearly not Patricia. For one thing, the girl is too young, and for another, this photo was taken only a few moments before the uncomfortable encounter with Patty in her bedroom. Nor is the child James—though given the lad’s warped state of mind, I would not put it past him to dress in girl’s clothing to frighten his mother. But James has an alibi, since we found him moments later in the study, ogling the perverted stereoscope.
I have been to the county records office, and after much searching, I finally uncovered birth certificates for the Carousel children—all
the Carousel children. Imagine my terror when I discovered not two, but three
separate papers. According to the documents, in addition to their son James, the Carousels have two daughters: Patricia, and one born three years earlier. Someone must have visited the records office prior to me, because the other daughter’s name has been redacted on the certificate.
|A photographic blow-up of the ghostly figure. Note the haunting, dead eyes.
I can find no death certificate, but I am now convinced that the Carousels murdered their oldest daughter and buried her in the basement of their demonic home. I have every intention of returning to Carousel House for a fifth interview, at which time I will demand access to the basement, or excuse myself for a quick investigation. I’m hopeful that I can locate the grave with expediency, and once I have proof, I will alert the proper authorities.
Given that there may have already been several attempts on my life, I am taking the precaution of mailing this case file to my colleagues at parkeology.com. Should the worst come to pass, they will be able to take action. Hopefully, they will do something a little more proactive than posting it on the internet.
Dr. Harold Farthing, Professor of Parkeology, Manchester University
|If you enjoyed this story, you may also enjoy The Raiders of Castillo del Mar, a swashbuckling pirate adventure novel with a comedic twist, available on amazon.com. Or check out Bismarck, winner of miceage’s one and only short fiction contest.